The story of Alexander Mosolov (1900-73) is soon told. A promising young member of post-Revolutionary Russia’s avant-garde, he shocked the establishment with his grindingly dissonant tone-poem The Iron Foundry. The commissars soon objected to such Modernism, and many composers either left Russia or were forced to simplify their style. Mosolov was exiled, spent time in a gulag, and was effectively written out of Soviet music. (His combative personality did him no favours.)

Mosolov

These two works in their premiere recordings show the result. The 38-minute Harp Concerto (1939) is a pretty, meandering work in four movements: pleasant but unmemorable. Late Mosolov sounds like his teacher Reinhold Glière without the rhythmic drive, or Dmitri Kabalevsky without the latter’s melodic facility. Symphony No. 5, Mosolov’s last, dates from 1965. It opens with a lugubrious Balakirev-like theme, and the preceding 80 years of musical development might never have happened. The performances are fine: Fleshman’s harp playing is sensitive and quite beautiful but the Moscow orchestra does not sound particularly engaged, even in the symphony’s final Toccatamovement.

This release has musicological interest, but if...

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